28 January 2011 | kevinolzak
Richard Matheson scripts, John Carradine acts
"The Actor" was one of the final episodes, scripted by famed science fiction author Richard Matheson ("I Am Legend," "The Incredible Shrinking Man"), providing a role tailor-made for the legendary John Carradine. Once celebrated actor Geoffrey Hendon, now down on his luck and performing Shakespeare in exchange for free drinks (something that Carradine enjoyed in real life), arrives at Lily Merrill's saloon demanding whiskey, for which he has no money to pay. Before he can be forcibly ejected from the premises, Lily notices that the stranger is not drunk, but wounded (not fatally). It seems that a female admirer (Mary Anderson) mistakenly became enamored of Geoffrey's fervid style of acting, which didn't sit well with her jealous husband, who follows the bloody trail in an attempt to finish the job. Carradine makes his character's death wish quite moving, yearning to hear the applause as he takes his final bow. Peggie Castle's Lily is sympathetic to the actor's charm, and he reveals his gratitude for her kindness with a monologue typical of Carradine's own travels (he had recently completed "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" for old friends John Wayne and director John Ford). His lifelong devotion to The Bard was mostly confined to the stage, but he had previously appeared in 1954's "An Evening of Hamlet" on THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET, "More Than Kin" on 1958's THE RESTLESS GUN, 1960's "Tolliver Bender" on WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE, later playing The Soothsayer in a 1983 TV production of ANTONY & CLEOPATRA, featuring Timothy Dalton and Lynn Redgrave. He last paid tribute to Shakespeare (and his idol John Barrymore) in a bravura cameo in a 1985 episode of FAME ("Leroy and the Kid"). Unusual subject matter for Richard Matheson, then busy doing Roger Corman Poe features for AIP, and a nice tribute to John Carradine.